The 2020 defense should improve
The Kansas City Chiefs defense was a massive part of the team’s first Super Bowl victory in 50 seasons. Even that statement somehow seems to under-represent just how important this unit was to the wonderful conclusion of the 2019 NFL season. In every playoff game the Chiefs trailed by double digits, and in every playoff game the defense clamped down on the opposing offense with a vice grip.
Going into the 2020 NFL Draft, most believed the Kansas City Chiefs would either draft a cornerback, a linebacker, or trade back into the second round to pick up more draft capital. None of those things happened, to the chagrin of a number in Chiefs Kingdom. That said, the front office nabbed a number of promising players in the later rounds.
Willie Gay Jr. is among the most intriguing prospects the team added to their roster this past weekend. While he has some question marks relating to past circumstances, something the vibrant familial culture of the Chiefs locker room should help to cull, Gay has a plethora of elite physical tools at his disposal.
He was top-10 in nearly every speed and power category for linebackers at the 2020 NFL Combine. More specifically, he finished second in the 40-yard dash, second in vertical jump, and first in the broad jump. There are high expectations for Gay, with some pundits already comparing him to former fan favorite Derrick Johnson, but Gay isn’t the only player that fans should be excited about.
For a fourth round pick, L’Jairus Sneed has all of the physical tools needed to play in Steve Spagnuolo’s scheme. He finished top-10 among safeties and defensive backs in all NFL Combine events he participated in, except for the bench press, and finished second with a 4.37 second 40-yard dash time. His biggest selling point is his ability to play both safety and corner, something that Spagnuolo has expertly leveraged in both Thornhill and Mathieu.
The truth is, the defense was going to see an improvement in year two of Steve Spagnuolo even without an infusion of talent. Juan Thornhill will return, and the dominant defense that ended the season should be ready to roll day one. The additions in the 2020 NFL Draft should make it all the more likely the Chiefs defense will finish the season as a top-10 unit or better.